What Are the Must-Do Attractions at Disneyland?
Over the years, theme park lovers have called Disneyland Park the Happiest Place on Earth.
While other places borrow the nickname from time to time, that phrase technically applies solely to Disneyland.
Depending on your criteria, this park offers as many as 30+ attractions to entertain you. And, as I recently discussed, they all average a wait time of 30+ minutes.
I’ll save you the math here. You’d need more than 18 hours of park time to ride and experience everything, and that’s before we factor in breaks.
So, if you want to eat a meal or go to the bathroom and get off your feet for a few minutes, the math here is clear.
You cannot do everything at Disneyland Park in one day. This leads to an obvious question. What are the must-do attractions at the park? Well…
I narrowed this list to 11, which felt like picking my favorite children. I owe apologies to some classics like Peter Pan’s Flight and Storybook Land Canal Boats.
However, I also leaned into the vaunted history of Disneyland, a place where Walt Disney stared at orange groves and envisioned family entertainment.
Park history matters more at Disneyland than anywhere else because it’s the first legitimate theme park on the planet.
All the early enhancements at this park signify one man’s dedication to perfecting his dream.
The first two must-dos at the park stem from this philosophy. Uncle Walt wanted to improve Disneyland to ensure the satisfaction of guests.
During the 1930s, the entrepreneur grew intrigued by a novel European transportation system called the monorail. He deemed it the future of travel.
So, the highlight of Disney’s first expansion became the monorail, which you can still ride today. And there is NOTHING more Disney than the monorail, my friends.
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
Of course, the monorail wasn’t the only form of transportation that arrived at the park in 1959.
Disneyland had opened with Autopia, a now-dated attraction that once anchored the park due to its popularity.
Based on the success of Autopia, Walt Disney cast an eye toward other transportation that park visitors, especially children, would love.
That’s how Submarine Voyage came into existence. Over the years, this ride also grew outdated, causing Disney to re-theme it.
In 2007, Disneyland reopened the attraction with a Finding Nemo connection that remains today.
However, Disney recently modernized it during the summer of 2022. The attraction has never looked better than it does right now.
Here’s one that wasn’t open when Walt Disney was alive. That statement represents one of its greatest frustrations in life.
Early drawings of Disneyland showed a Haunted Mansion attraction. We’re talking about illustrations from 1954, 15 years before the ride opened.
Imagineers needed that long to bring their vision to life. Even after they had, parts of it struggled.
The Hatbox Ghost notoriously vanished for decades because Disney couldn’t make it work right. Guests wouldn’t see him against until 2015.
Fittingly, no other Haunted Mansion attraction in the world features the Hatbox Ghost. It’s a Disneyland exclusive, as is Haunted Mansion Holiday.
So, you have two reasons to prioritize this attraction, even if you’ve spent ample time at other versions of Haunted Mansion.
Indiana Jones Adventure
Here’s one of the more recent expansions at the park. For a time, Disneyland fans believed that additional attractions were impossible.
After all, the park had maxed out on space. Thankfully, Imagineers found a way, though. Indiana Jones Adventure resides outside the park!
Disney reclaimed a parking lot and used the space for the attraction building’s interior. Somehow, that feels right for the story.
You’re visiting the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, a place where tourists shouldn’t go.
Indiana Jones doesn’t work as your tour guide, but you’ll run into him occasionally. Don’t expect much help, though. He isn’t having any luck, either.
It’s a Small World
When we talk about park originals, this one comes with an asterisk. Walt Disney somehow convinced Pepsi to pay for this entire attraction.
Imagineers built It’s a Small World for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Once the exhibition finished in 1965, Pepsi also paid to ship it to California!
This attraction has hosted millions of guests in New York and California alike!
Plus, Disney officials sometimes project overlays on the building’s side, making it that much more magical.
I could bore you to death with minutiae involving this ride’s construction.
Nobody in the world had ever tried anything like Matterhorn Bobsleds, and it started the roller coaster wars that remain in play today.
Honestly, that’s not why you want to ride, though. You jump in a giant tube and sled down a mountain. It’s like a bumpy toboggan on rails. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Sometimes, I honestly don’t understand Disney officials. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride is one of the greatest attractions ever.
For whatever reason, Disney only built two of them. Then, park officials closed the one at Magic Kingdom more than 20 years ago. I’m still bitter.
Walt Disney World fans remain jealous of Disneyland since guests here can still enjoy Disney’s wildest ride.
Be careful, though! This one’s been known to send people straight to Hell! Seriously, it’s the darkest Disney ride ever, but nobody realizes that fact.
Pirates of the Caribbean
When people think about iconic attractions, this one should spring to mind first or very soon afterward.
I’m not sure that fans associate any ride more closely with Disney than Pirates of the Caribbean. And they should.
No attraction exemplifies Walt Disney’s legacy more than the one he worked on during his final days on Earth.
Imagineers have protected that legacy by reinvigorating Pirates of the Caribbean with new scenes and new ideas.
In fact, if Walt Disney were alive today, he’d gaze in wonder at the attraction he created.
Some elements of the original version remain while others are only a few years old. They all fit perfectly with the theme, though. It’s a timeless attraction that connects generations.
Snow White’s Enchanted Wish
Conversely, Disney threw out the playbook on Snow White’s Scary Adventures.
The ride proved one of the few misfires on Disneyland’s opening day, and it never really recovered from that.
A few years ago, Disney decided to reboot with an upbeat theme. Now, we have Snow White’s Enchanted Wish instead. It tells the same story in a positive way.
We even get the magical kiss and the fairytale ending in the new version.
Since Disneyland opened the new version during the pandemic, the overwhelming majority of people have yet to experience it. This one’s a high priority!
Have you ever visited Disneyland before? If not, I’ll presume that you have gone to Magic Kingdom. In that case, you’re in for a shock here.
The ride carts at Space Mountain sit two-by-two rather than solo. It’s much more of a communal ride experience for this reason.
Also, the ride somehow feels different than the one at Magic Kingdom. I presume it has much to do with the vastly different weights of the ride carts.
So, you’ll feel like you’re riding Space Mountain for the first time all over again at Disneyland!
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
I’d like to put both Star Wars attractions on here. If you have time for both, you should definitely make the attempt!
However, when you only have the opportunity enjoy one, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is the clear choice.
Currently, the pride of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is the top overall attraction at Disneyland Resort.
The only two attractions that are even in the conversation are Radiator Springs Racers and WEBSLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure, both of which are at Disney California Adventure.
At Disneyland, when you can only choose one attraction, make the effort for Rise of the Resistance. Its wait time of 75-90 minutes is perfectly reasonable.
After all, the ride experience takes up to 20 minutes, depending on what you consider its start and finish. You really do live out a Star Wars adventure here!
Thanks for visiting MickeyBlog.com! Want to go to Disney? For a FREE quote on your next Disney vacation, please fill out the form below and one of the agents from MickeyTravels, a Platinum level Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, will be in touch soon!
Feature Photo: Photo: CNtraveler.com